|A good eater must be a good man; for a good eater must have a good digestion, and a good digestion depends upon a good conscience. - Benjamin Disraeli|
No. 152, 12 August 1991
BALTIC STATES POPULAR FRONT, DEMOCRATIC RUSSIA MEET IN TALLINN. Leaders of the Estonian Popular Front and Democratic Russia discussed the post-Union treaty future at an August 10 meeting in Tallinn, Radio Rossii reported the next day. The PF and Democratic Russia discussed guaranteeing the rights of national minorities in both republics, and noted that Russia's signing the Union treaty would create a new legal basis for Estonian-RSFSR relations. Representatives of the two grassroots movements last met in June, when they called on the RSFSR to quickly ratify the political and economic agreement signed with Estonia last January. (Riina Kionka) LITHUANIA SETS UP "WEAPONS FUND". The Lithuanian government announced the creation of a "weapons fund" on August 8, Radio Independent Lithuania reported August 9. According to a government statement, Lithuanians were asked to turn in weapons, ammunition, and explosives, which will be used "to strengthen the security of borders, customs posts, and important government buildings." The fund will also accept monetary donations for the purchase of weapons. The decision to stockpile weapons seemed to indicate a change in Lithuanian strategy, which had previously emphasized peaceful resistance methods. (Gytis Liulevicius) THREE-DAY PROTEST AGAINST OMON. Thousands of Lithuanians spent the weekend protesting outside the Vilnius OMON headquarters, demanding its withdrawal, Radio Independent Lithuania reported August 11. Sajudis organized the three-day demonstration, which began on August 9. Crowd estimates ranged from one to five thousand throughout the weekend. No incidents were reported, although the OMON attempted to drown out the rally by playing the USSR national anthem and military music through loudspeakers. The demonstrators also marched to a Soviet army building and the local KGB headquarters. (Gytis Liulevicius) APPEAL TO LITHUANIANS IN SOVIET ARMY. On August 9 Chairman of the Lithuanian Supreme Council Vytautas Landsbergis issued an appeal to Lithuanians serving in the Soviet army, Radio Independent Lithuania reported that day. Landsbergis called on the soldiers not to take part in any punitive actions against anyone in the USSR, reminding them of the killings in Vilnius and Medininkai earlier this year. The appeal ended with the words: "Cast aside the service, which is not obligatory for you, and return to just work and stand in defense of Lithuania." (Saulius Girnius) SHORTAGE OF COINS IN LATVIA. Radio Riga reported on August 8 that there is a shortage of small change in Latvia. The problem has arisen on account of a reduction by 50% of coins that are distributed by Moscow to the republican banks. (Dzintra Bungs) TWO LAWS ADOPTED BY THE LATVIAN SUPREME COUNCIL. According to Diena and Radio Riga of August 8, the Latvian legislators adopted two new laws. The law on environmental protection sets forth the guiding principles and will eventually be amplified by some specific laws, such as those regulating fines for misdeeds. The law on cooperatives, which was also adopted, was necessitated by the fact that the recently adopted law on enterprises did not specifically deal with cooperatives. (Dzintra Bungs) USSR--ALL-UNION TOPICS YAKOVLEV INTERVIEWED BY VESTI. "Nothing imaginable could be worse than Bolshevism except Bolshevism," said Aleksandr Yakovlev in an exclusive interview published in Vesti August 8. Yakovlev was interviewed in his new office in the Moscow City Soviet with his Kremlin phone line cut off, but he said his relations with Gorbachev remain "normal"--the two disagree only on the CPSU's potential for reform. Yakovlev said that he will quit the CPSU if the Movement for Democratic Reforms, of which he is co-founder, is transformed into a political party at its next congress. He no longer considers it a problem to leave the CPSU. (Julia Wishnevsky) MDR CONDEMNS HARASSMENT OF "DEMOCRATIC CONMMUNISTS". The Movement for Democratic Reforms has condemned the expulsion of two leaders of the Democratic Party of Russian Communists, Aleksandr Rutskoi and Vasilii Lipitsky, from the CPSU, according to an August 9 TSN report, quoting Izvestia. "While paying the lip service to cooperation, consensus, consolidation and dialogue," the MDR says, "the leadership of the Russian Communist Party behaves in the old Stalinist way, in the traditions of the worst times of the past." The previous day, MDR co-founder Aleksandr Yakovlev told an interviewer on the RSFSR TV newscast Vesti that the expulsion of RSFSR Vice-President Rutskoi is a declaration of "war against the Russian people." (Julia Wishnevsky) GRAIN PROCUREMENTS LAGGING. The Chairman of the USSR State Committee for the Procurement of Food Resources, Mikhail Timoshishin, told Pravda August 9 that, with the grain harvest half completed, farms have sold the state only about one-quarter of the grain planned. It is the withholding of agricultural produce that represents the gravest threat to food distribution and urban supplies under present circumstances. Farms are protesting adverse terms of trade, whereby the procurement prices they receive for state deliveries have risen appreciably less than the prices of producer goods that they must buy from industry. And, despite colorful lures of imported and domestic consumer and producer goods on offer to farms that fulfill and overfulfill their procurement quotas, farms are refusing to take rubles for their produce. (Keith Bush) CATASTROPHIC SITUATION IN CONSTRUCTION SECTOR. August 11 was "Construction Day" in the Soviet Union. According to a Radio Moscow report of August 11, data recently released by Goskomstat indicate that this is one of the most poorly functioning sectors of the Soviet economy. In the first half of 1991, only three out of 331 facilities scheduled to be brought on line for this year were completed. Housing construction is off by 21 percent from the mid-year figure for last year. The sector is suffering from a chronic shortage of supplies, with little relief in sight. (John Tedstrom) GERASHCHENKO ON INFLATION. In an interview with The Financial Times on August 9, the chairman of the USSR Gosbank, Viktor Gerashchenko, warned that he will start cutting off funds to spendthrift republican banks after the first republics sign the Union Treaty (currently scheduled to for August 20). He named the RSFSR central bank as the main culprit, and charged that it declined all effective cooperation with the USSR Gosbank. Gerashchenko estimated that the USSR Gosbank will issue 80 billion rubles' worth of banknotes in 1991, instead of the 35 billion rubles' worth planned. The income of the population had risen by 71 percent during the first half of the year. (Keith Bush) GERASHCHENKO ON GOLD. In the same interview, Gerashchenko confirmed that the USSR Gosbank's reserves of 374.56 tons of gold represented only a small part of total Soviet gold reserves. He claimed that he was pressuring the Soviet government to give up its secrecy over the country's gold output, sales, and reserves, and suggested that Soviet gold be used as collateral for making the ruble convertible. Gerashchenko said he had suggested to the IMF and World Bank that Western countries extend further credits to the USSR, but maintained that the Soviet Union could honor its debt repayments--which he estimated at $20 billion--"at least until December." (Keith Bush) GERASHCHENKO ON THE STATE OF THE SOVIET ECONOMY. In a pithy overview of current problems, Gerashchenko asserted: pay was running way ahead of productivity; taxation was too low; the budget deficit was uncontrolled; the printing of money continued unabated; the internal convertibility of the ruble--planned for January 1992--was impossible; and government and presidential decrees and exhortations had no effect. The Financial Times correspondents apparently did not ask him, nor did he volunteer, an explanation of the part that he and Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov had played in fuelling inflation, nor did he refer to recent rumors concerning the abolition of the USSR Gosbank. (Keith Bush) REJOINDER ON TENGIZCHEVROIL. In a recent article in Moscow News, that was reprinted in The Los Angeles Times of August 6 (see The RFE/RL Daily Report of August 7), former Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze offered a vigorous defense of the Soviet-Kazakh-US joint project to develop the Tengiz oil field. Infonovosti of August 8 has carried the Moscow News rejoinder. This maintains that the Tengiz field is the USSR's only untapped oil and gas deposit of world significance. It reiterates that the deal is extremely disadvantageous to the Soviet side: Chevron stands to gain $100 billion in profits, while the Soviet Union will get virtually nothing. (Keith Bush) BAHAISM SPREADING IN THE SOVIET UNION. TASS reported on August 8 that a group of missionaries from California on a visit to Birobidzhan are considering the prospects for setting up a Baha'i community there. The Soviet Baha'i community now numbers about 1000 members [See RFE/RL Daily Report, No. 238, 1990.] (Oxana Antic) MORE ESTIMATES OF THE POVERTY LEVEL. In the absence of regular, comprehensive and authoritative data on living standards from the USSR Goskomstat, various agencies and media are offering their calculations--notably on the quantification of the "poverty level." APN of August 8 tries its hand. It contrasts the official estimate that some 90 million Soviet citizens may fall below the poverty line in 1991 with the trade unions' projection of one half of the population. In April, the trade unions set 270 rubles a month as the subsistence minimum, while Commersant is cited as giving 3,000 rubles a month as the income needed to attain a Western level of subsistence minimum. (Keith Bush) WHICH ORGANIZATIONS DO SOVIET CITIZENS TRUST? A poll taken by the Center for Public Opinion research asked Soviet citizens, "Which of the following Party, alternative movements, state, and religious organizations do you trust?" The results, published in Moskovskie novosti August 8, indicate: 18% chose the nationalist-patriotic movement Pamyat'; 18% selected the Communist Party; while 59% expressed trust in the army. The survey noted, however, that the largest proportion of the population polled, some 630 respondents, expressed faith in the Russian Orthodox Church. It is unclear from the report whether additional organizations were included in the survey. (Carla Thorson) USSR--IN THE REPUBLICS TIMETABLE FOR SIGNING UNION TREATY. RIA reported August 9 that Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan are scheduled to sign the Union treaty on September 20, and Azerbaijan and Ukraine are tentatively scheduled to sign it on October 10. On August 11 Moscow radio cited Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbaev as saying that Belorussia and Tajikistan will join the RSFSR, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan in signing the treaty on August 20. It was earlier reported that the two republics would sign in on September 3. (Ann Sheehy) SHAKHRAI ON UNION TREATY. In an interview on Russian television on August 10, Sergei Shakhrai, chairman of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet's Committee on Legislation and adviser to Yeltsin on legal questions, repeated the warning to Yeltsin that he should either call an urgent session of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet to approve the latest draft of the Union treaty or postpone signing it. Shakhrai maintained that a number of articles of the treaty could be interpreted in such a way as to be unacceptable to the RSFSR in that they would lead to the destruction of its statehood. Shakhrai suggested that the signing of the treaty should be accompanied by a declaration by the President of the RSFSR and its constituent republics that they are not aiming at the disintegration of the RSFSR. (Ann Sheehy) DEMOCRATIC RUSSIA ON UNION TREATY. The Coordination Council of the "Democratic Russia" movement has sent a letter to Yeltsin expressing a number of reservations about the Union treaty, Radio Rossii reported August 9. In particular, they suggest that the functioning of the treaty should be limited to one year. (Ann Sheehy) DID YELTSIN DO A DEAL WITH GORBACHEV OVER THE UNION TREATY? In an interview published in Rossiiskie vesti of August 10, Evgenii Ambartsumov, deputy chairman of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet Committee for International Affairs and Foreign Economic Ties, said that a large degree of dissatisfaction with the text of the draft treaty remained. Ambartsumov said that it seemed to him that Yeltsin had agreed to sign the treaty with all its shortcomings in exchange for Gorbachev giving silent assent to Yeltsin's decree on departization. (Ann Sheehy) UKRAINIAN PREMIER ON DRAFT UNION TREATY. At a press conference in Kiev on August 9, Ukrainian premier Vitol'd Fokin said that the latest draft of the Union treaty showed a clear desire on the part of the center to defend old formulations, Ukrinform-TASS reported August 9. Fokin complained that under the draft about 45 percent of Ukraine's industrial potential would remain under centralized management, and that the center wanted to retain control of road, sea, and air transport. He also disagreed with the proposed retention of a single financial, credit, and insurance policy. (Ann Sheehy) STRUCTURE OF USSR STATE COMMITTEE FOR NATIONALITY QUESTIONS RATIFIED. The USSR Cabinet of Ministers has ratified the structure of the central apparat of the USSR State Committee for Nationality Questions, Moscow radio reported August 9, citing RIA. The committee was set up more than a year ago, but has not yet started to work. (Ann Sheehy) YELTSIN ON NEW POWER STRUCTURES. Vesti reported on August 10 that RSFSR president Boris Yeltsin will soon sign a decree establishing presidential administrations in all oblasts and raions of Russia, including autonomous republics. The heads of the administrations will be elected next fall; in the meantime, Yeltsin will send personal envoys to the periphery to watch over the implementation of his decrees. In a meeting with the independent Trade Unions of Russia, broadcast by Radio Rossii on August 10, Yeltsin said that his newly created State Council will consist of 15 people--half of them heads of the most important republican ministries, the rest state councillors. Yeltsin said that the RSFSR Security Council will maintain ties with the USSR KGB and MVD and with the Soviet army. (Alexander Rahr) YELTSIN'S DECREE IMPLEMENTED. At his meeting with the trade unionists, Yeltsin also said that the signing of the Union Treaty will mark the end of the all-Union institutions' power. The tasks of the center will be restricted to defense, border security and railway transportation. Meanwhile, Yeltsin's decree on depolitization is being implemented throughout Russia. CP committees in all military institutions in Nizhnii Novgorod have been closed down, Radio Mayak reported on August 11. In Moscow, a city commission for depolitization has been set up under the chairmanship of USSR deputy Arkadii Murashov, Radio Rossii reported on August 10. (Alexander Rahr) RSFSR SUPREME JUDGES QUIT THE CPSU. On August 5, the judges of the RSFSR Supreme Court held their last Party meeting, Izvestia reported August 6. The meeting was devoted to Yeltsin's edict banning organized political activity from work places. The judges decided not merely to remove their primary Party cell from the Court premises, as the RSFSR President had decreed, but also to suspend their membership in the CPSU as long as they are members of the Court. This move is to prevent interference by CPSU officials. The RSFSR justices cited the decision of the members of the USSR Committee for Constitutional Compliance, "who suspended their membership in the CPSU long ago despite the lack of any direct order [from President Gorbachev]." (Julia Wishnevsky) SOVIET GERMAN CONGRESS SET FOR OCTOBER. The long-delayed officially-sponsored congress of Soviet Germans will take place from October 18-20, Neues Leben reported August 7. The congress had originally been planned for March, but was cancelled at the last minute. The reason given was the referendum on the future of the Soviet Union, but the real grounds seem to have been dissension among the Soviet Germans; the more militant members of the Soviet German "Rebirth" association were sticking out for the restoration of the Volga German republic while the authorities wanted the Soviet Germans to settle, at least temporarily, for extra-territorial autonomy. Since then, a German national raion has been established in the Altai, and the chances for the restoration of some form of autonomy for the Germans on the Volga seem to have improved marginally. (Ann Sheehy) GEORGIA PASSES PRIVATIZATION LAW. Georgia passed a law on privatization August 9, according to a TASS report the same day. Although details on the new law are not available, it concerns only state enterprises and organizations. Legislation covering land and housing will be passed separately. The first private enterprise in Georgia is expected to begin operations October 1. (John Tedstrom) HAIRIKYAN REGISTERS AS PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. TASS reported August 11 that former Armenian dissident Paruir Hairikyan has been nominated by the Council for National Self-Determination as a candidate for the Armenian presidential election on October 16. The CNSD advocates Armenia's immediate secession from the USSR. Hairikyan was stripped of his Soviet citizenship and expelled from the USSR in the summer of 1988; he returned to Armenia, where he is a member of the Supreme Soviet, in November, 1990. (Liz Fuller) TURKISH CONSULATE OPENS IN BAKU. RL's Azerbaijan BD was informed August 9 that a Turkish consulate had opened in Baku on the basis of an agreement signed when Turkish president Turgut Ozal visited Azerbaijan in March of this year. (Liz Fuller) JOINT VENTURES IN TAJIKISTAN. Two joint ventures with American firms are now functioning in Tajikistan, according to a TASS report of August 8. One manufactures leather and fur goods for the local market, while the second is organizing the manufacture of clothing from raw material to finished goods. The firm has already obtained land on which to raise long-staple cotton. Its plans to open processing and sewing plants promise employment to villagers, who represent the largest pool of unemployed in the republic. (Bess Brown) TAJIKISTAN TAKES STEPS TO CONTROL CROSS-BORDER TRADE. Unregulated barter trade has resulted in large quantities of fruit and vegetables flowing out of Tajikistan in recent weeks. TASS reported on August 9 that one of the new restrictions promulgated by the republican Cabinet of Ministers to limit this trade forbids cross-border barter trade unless the Tajik party receives goods that are in extremely short supply in Tajikistan. The measures should not inhibit Tajik traders from fulfilling all-Union and bilateral trade agreements. Non-state traders (cooperatives, and private persons, for example) will be assessed a 30-40 percent export tax on the produce they ship out of the republic. (John Tedstrom) TYPHUS OUTBREAK IN UZBEKISTAN. Dirty water is said to be the cause of an outbreak of typhus in Uzbekistan's Kyzyltepa Raion, according to TASS on August 8, quoting Izvestia. Around 100 people had contracted the disease, which had already caused one death at the time of the report. The outbreak of typhus is only one of the health problems to result from the lack of clean drinking water in Central Asia, where many villagers have no alternative to getting water from ditches and canals. (Bess Brown) MOLDAVIAN PRESIDENT REAFFIRMS PRO-INDEPENDENCE STAND. In a speech broadcast August 9 on Radio Kishinev, Moldavian president Mircea Snegur dismissed as "fabrications" and "provocations" recent claims of Soviet media and the Moldavian Popular Front that the Moldavian leadership leans toward signing the Union treaty. Accusing Moscow and the Moldavian CP of "pressuring Moldavia" and "bombarding us with demands in connection with the Union treaty," Snegur said that "the idea of independence has seized the widest masses of the people." He said that he "wanted to renew assurances that the Moldavian leadership will remain faithful to the ideals of full sovereignty and independence until the very end and has no intention to deviate from this position." (Vladimir Socor) MOLDAVIA ABOLISHING SOVIET-TYPE LOCAL ADMINISTRATION. In the same speech, delivered to a republican conference of administrative officials, Snegur outlined the mechanism for the transition from the administrative system based on soviets to one of local self-government. Under the law adopted by the Moldavian parliament on July 10, Moldavia's 40 rural and 10 urban raions are to be replaced by January 1992 by up to 10 counties and several municipalities with extensive executive powers to be devolved on them by the republican government. The communist-controlled soviets in areas with non-native population resist the reform on the ground that it "dismantles Soviet power." (Vladimir Socor)
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